I often steer away from eco-friendly shoes because they’re always so dowdy-looking. I can’t stand “practical” shoes—there’s no detailing, no pop of color, no real style. You’d have to drag me screaming from my sunshine yellow, peep-toe flats and into a pair of hoof-foot Birkenstocks.

But if fashion is an expression of oneself, I’d like to express a stylish and environmentally conscious vibe this summer.

After an extensive eco-trendy sandal hunt, here’s my summer style favorites.

1. Simple Shoes: Women's Tantan - Eco-Certified Leather Gladiator Sandals ($85) 

Gladiator sandals are everywhere. Eco-friendly gladiators? Not so much. These sandals, made of natural crepe rubber, recycled car tires and water-based glue, are trendy and leave a smaller carbon footprint. Simple Shoes is an open book about the materials it uses; consumers can read details about each material on the company’s website.

Even the packaging is eco-friendly. The shoebox is made of post-consumer recycled paper and uses sustainable soy-based printing ink, natural latex and starch-based glue.

Tantan Women's Sandal 
Gladiator style eco-friendly sandals are popular for summer. Photo Courtesy Simple Shoes. 

2. Recycleyourjeans.com: Recycled Sandals ($66) 

Transform your old jeans into shoes! Recycleyourjeans.com, a subset of Softwalker shoes, specializes in turning old jeans into adorable step-up-from-Birkenstock sandals.

Other than your jeans, these shoes are made of synthetic polyurethane, metal buckles, sewing thread and woven labels.

Just fill out an order form, and in 7-10 days you’ll receive your new sandals.


 Recycleyourjeans.com sandals
Recycleyourjeans.com offers a variety of eco-friendly sandal styles made from denim. Photo Courtesy Recycleyourjeans.com 

3.  Half Moon Outfitters: Reef Ugandal Sandal For Women ($58) 

These sandals have that artsy, bohemian look that is really popular right now.

The Reef Ugandal Sandal is decorated with beads handcrafted by displaced women in Uganda. The bulk of shoe is made of 100 percent recycled paper, and the leather T-strap and footbed are chrome-free. The beads are coated in water-based lacquer.

Half Moon Outfitters is committed to eco-friendly production and products. It received the S-NEWS Retailer of the Year Sustainable Business Award in 2009. Half Moon Outfitters’ building is certified LEED Platinum by the U.S. Green Building Council. Half Moon Outfitters specializes in outdoor equipment and clothing, but has a small selection of fashion-forward items.
Reef Ugandal Sandal
Delicate, colorful beads adorn these eco-friendly sandals. Photo Courtesy Half Moon Outfitters.

4. Zappos: Naya Atwood Botanical Collection Sandals ($124) 

These white-heeled sandals would look fabulous with a sundress or a dressy shirt and skinny jeans. I am in love with these sandals, even though they are a bit of a splurge, and I walk like Frankenstein in heels. The rosettes are feminine and fashionable, and the cork gives them a summer vibe. These shoes are also available in camel for a natural look and black for a dressier look.   

The three-inch bamboo heel has a recycled cork outsole. The footbed is made of cork and rubber with leather lining and also has biodegradable latex foam within the footbed for cushioning.

Naya Sandal 
Soft cork and hardy bamboo make these eco-friendly sandals both comfortable and durable. Photo Courtesy Zappos.